Ultimate Rankings Countdown: 203-153

203. Southern Utah: Guard Davis Baker (17.4 ppg) can score from anywhere on the floor, and he might be good enough to lift Southern Utah on to the league's upper deck. The Thunderbirds' closest conference foe is Oral Roberts, which is about 1,250 miles away. The Thunderbirds lose a lot of quality size, though, in Tyler Quinny and John Clifford. Guys such as 6-9 Lucas Jones and 6-9 Jaren Jeffery have to give Baker some help.

202. Cal State Fullerton: The Titans went to the NCAA tournament in 2008, but they look likely to continue to fall out of contention this season. After winning the league and battling Wisconsin in the 2008 NCAA tournament, the Titans fell into a tie for seventh last season despite the heroics of Big West player of the year and top scorer Josh Akognon (23.9 ppg). He helped ease a rebuilding season, but he was a senior and coach Bob Burton must find more production from several returnees. The next star might be guard Jacques Streeter (10.4 ppg), who returns as a sophomore.

201. Louisiana Lafayette: Guard Chris Gradigno returns as the leading scorer from last year, but Coach Robert Lee is on the hot seat and shook up his staff, hiring two new assistants. There is some talent, most notably Gradigno, but the Ragin' Cajuns must shoot better (41.6 percent last season, including a woeful 32.1 percent from 3-point range) and put forth more effort on the boards. Injuries also were an issue last season. Look for the Ragin' Cajuns to sit in the middle of the Sun Belt Conference.

200. Drake: The Bulldogs had a magical run to the NCAA tourney in 2008, but they crashed back to reality last season. This season will be another test. While Drake took a step back from its magical 2007-08 MVC title season, the Bulldogs did make a postseason tournament (the CollegeInsider.com Tournament). That marked the school's first consecutive postseason appearances since 1970-71. This season, this squad will be made or broken based on the development of its frontcourt. Guard Josh Young returns as one of the better players in the Missouri Valley Conference.

199. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies are coming off their first .500 record in six seasons and appear on an upswing. St. Bonaventure is returning to respectability with baby steps. The Bonnies reached two major landmarks last season, the best bits of good news since the use of an ineligible player cost the coaching staff, athletic director and university president their jobs in 2003. The Bonnies made the A-10 tournament field for the first time since the conference expanded to 14 teams in 2005. Third-year coach Mark Schmidt hopes to build on that this season, and forward Andrew Nicholson looks to improve on last year's numbers.

198. Western Carolina: Five key seniors are back for the Catamounts, including guard Brandon Giles, who have a solid shot at the conference title.The Catamounts earned a share of the North Division title last season. With five seniors, led by Giles (13.2 ppg), and SoCon freshman of the year Harouna Mutombo (14.4 ppg) returning, they have an excellent chance to win the division outright this season.

197. Arkansas-Little Rock:  Guard Matt Mouzy returns as the fourth leading scorer on this Sun Belt squad. The Trojans lost their top three scorers, their top two frontcourt players and two of their three best guards. The Trojans won 23 games last season, but a rebuilding season looms. Mouzy needs help from a five-man recruiting class that includes three junior college players.

196. East Tennessee:  ETSU gave Pitt a first-round scare in the NCAA tourney last season, but the top two players from that team are gone. The Bucs won the league tournament last season, and forward Mike Smith has the potential for a great season. Smith has a chance to average a double-double, but he must get some help from a solid recruiting class and some holdovers who didn't have to do much last season.

195. James Madison:  The Dukes seem likely to take a step back in their second season under coach Matt Brady. Forward Julius Wells is back, which means big numbers for him, and the Dukes won two postseason games in one season for the first time in school history in 2008-09. Although double-figure scorers Juwann James and Kyle Swanston are gone, the Dukes return Wells (11.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) - who was the CAA rookie of the year - as well as sophomore guard Devon Moore.

194. Indiana State: The Sycamores return 12 players, including guard Harry Marshall and finished strong last season after a woeful start. Coach Kevin McKenna made some strides in his first season on the job. McKenna, a Creighton alum, knows the league and is trying to guide the Sycamores to their first postseason appearance since 2001. A big key is being more aggressive in attacking the basket; too often, this team settled for jump shots.

193. Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks lost their two best players, and both were forwards. They still retain guard Eddie Williams, who will always contribute. However, there will be no repeat trip to the NCAAs. It's time to start over after senior big men Matt Kingsley and Josh Alexander - the league's past two players of the year - led the Lumberjacks to a 24-8 season, Southland title and NCAA first-round loss to Syracuse. Two other key seniors are gone and the frontcourt is a huge concern. Williams (7.4 ppg) and 5-3 Eric Bell bring experience and ability to the backcourt.

192. Central Michigan: Forward Chris Kellermann is one of the premier forwards in the Mid-American Conference. The Chippewas tied for the MAC West title last season despite an under-.500 record. It could happen again. Central Michigan overcame plenty of injuries and adversity to win a share of the West Division regular-season title. Now that the Chippewas expect to have Kellermann and center Marko Spica back for a whole season, they have reason to believe they can finish near the top of the division again.

191. Army: The Black Knights are inconsistent defensively, especially on the perimeter. But a lack of size hurts. A fast, ball-hawking backcourt keys a defense that gives Army a chance to be a long-shot contender. Guard Cleveland Richard (12.0 ppg), Patriot League top defender Marcus Nelson and talented sophomore Julian Simmons make up a mean perimeter trio. The Black Knights need to be more consistent offensively, though, and a third shooter to complement Richard and Simmons would help.

190. Louisiana Tech:  The veteran Bulldogs have a shot at their first NCAA appearance since 1991. With the help of guard Kyle Gibson, Louisiana Tech hopes to carry a late-season hot streak into the 2009-10 season. Helping the Bulldogs achieve that goal will be the return of their two best players, Gibson and center Magnum Rolle. Both tested the NBA draft waters before making the wise choice of staying in school. Behind that inside-outside combo, Louisiana Tech hopes to avoid the slow start that marred last season.

189. South Florida: Maybe one day the Bulls will be a legit contender in the Big East. And maybe one day pigs will fly. It's difficult to imagine USF not making a significant improvement on last season's 9-22 season and 14th-place finish in the Big East, and guard Dominique Jones will help with that. Other than second-leading scorer Jesus Verdejo, the Bulls return every key player from their 2008-09 squad and boast a recruiting class that's easily the best in Stan Heath's three seasons at the school. Plus, talented guard Mike Mercer - who was kicked off the team last season - has been reinstated.

188. Navy: The run-and-gun Midshipmen should be the best of the three service academies this season. Especially with talented guard Chris Harris. When it comes to entertainment value, there's no contest in the Patriot League. Navy and its fast-paced offense is a treat to watch. The question is whether it can be as much fun without Kaleo Kina and his 18 points per game. Harris (15.4 ppg) will get even more shots, and that's a good thing. Center Mark Veazey (7.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) might be the key.

187. Alabama State: Four key seniors are gone from a Hornets team that lost in the NCAA tournament play-in game. Coach Lewis Jackson was infuriated with how things ended, a lackluster showing in a 58-43 loss to Morehead State in the play-in game, but Jackson's program had a terrific 22-10 season worth remembering, including a great season by forward Roland Fitch. Jackson might want to reminisce often, considering the loss of the four crucial seniors - including SWAC player of the year Brandon Brooks. Fitch (9.7 ppg) and Wesley Jones (9.3 ppg) will ease the rebuilding process.

186. Loyola-Maryland: Guard Jamal Barney is a key element for the Greyhounds this season. The Greyhounds are hoping for big things from forward Shane Walker as well, a Maryland transfer. Barney should be one of the top three scorers in the league, and Walker could team with Barney to give the Greyhounds a nice 1-2 punch. Brian Rudolph is a steady point man, and if everything breaks right, what was a young team last season could make a play for a top-four finish this season.

185. Winthrop:  The Eagles suffered through a rare losing season in 2008-09, but they should be back in the thick of the league race this season. The Eagles suffered their first losing season in more than a decade in 2008-09; don't expect that to happen again anytime soon. Freshman forward Charles Corbin (9.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) is back, Andre Jones (9.1 ppg) and Reggie Middleton (5.7 ppg) are coming off solid freshman seasons and league defensive player of the year Mantoris Robinson is a jack-of-all-trades guy who should help the Eagles soar toward the top of the standings.

184. Jackson State: Four of the top six scorers, including forward Grant Maxey, are back for the SWAC favorite. Jackson State finished 15-3 in the league (just a game behind Alabama State) last season, so this looks like the school to beat this season. Maxey (16.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg) should reign as the SWAC's top player, while Garrison Johnson (10.7 ppg) and sophomore guard Rod Melvin provide quality support.

183. Austin Peay: Coach Dave Loos, heading into his 17th season, will have the Governors in the mix for the Ohio Valley title. Loos has one of the league's best players in guard Wes Channels, but replacing all-league forward Drake Reed ultimately is going to prove to be too tough. The Governors are deep and experienced, and Loos will get them to play hard. But without Reed, the offense is going to suffer.

182. UC Santa Barbara: The Gauchos appear to be a season away from truly contending for the Big West crown. The Gauchos remained solid, finishing 8-8 in the league despite the heavy use of four freshmen last season. Standout forward Chris Devine (15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) was a big reason for that, and now he's gone. Those freshmen and other key pieces return, though, with much expected from forward James Nunnally (7.9 ppg). Even more will be expected from guard Orlando Johnson, a transfer from Loyola Marymount.

181. Texas-San Antonio:  The Roadrunners have a good backcourt, including guard Devon Gibson, but the frontcourt is more than a bit iffy. Backcourts don't get much faster or more entertaining than Gibson (12.3 ppg, 3.3 apg) and the 5-7 Omar Johnson (12.6 ppg, 40 percent 3-point accuracy). The Roadrunners will ride them to another solid season. If UTSA can get more around the basket from players such as Demarco Stepter (6.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg), add a third contender to the West Division race.

180. Ohio:  The Bobcats should be good from the perimeter, but the frontcourt could be a wasteland. They receive guard Armann Bassett who will contribute substantially. Ohio finished in the MAC East basement a year ago and now must find a way to replace first-team All-MAC performer Jerome Tillman and two other starters. The arrival of Bassett, a transfer from Indiana, should help, but the Bobcats could struggle in the paint without Tillman controlling the glass.

179. Illinois-Chicago: Look for guard Robo Kreps to improve this season while the Flames look to have the needed pieces to finish .500 in Horizon League action. Gifted guard Josh Mayo and his 1,700-plus career points are gone, as are center Scott VanderMeer and his 273 career blocks. That doesn't bode well for a team that beat Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt on the road but scuffled to a 7-11 Horizon record. That bottom line could improve, though, with better luck in close games and continued development from Kreps (12.3 ppg) and 6-8 forward Robert Eppinger.

178. San Diego: Guard Brandon Johnson, the Toreros best player is back after blowing out an Achilles tendon early last season. Johnson was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA in June, meaning he'll be back for a fifth year. That's huge for a team that essentially saw its title hopes end in the eighth game last season, when Johnson suffered his injury. The Toreros still need to find someone to step in for departed F Gyno Pomare.

177. Davidson: A sad fan base turns its lonely eyes to the void that is left by a departed Stephen Curry. Curry led the Wildcats to an average of 28.3 wins in his three seasons, but he's not the only loss for the Wildcats. Second-leading scorer Andrew Lovedale and league defensive player of the year Max Paulhus Gosselin also are gone. Archambault (8.3 ppg) is the top returning scorer. Look for J.P. Kuhlman, a three-star guard who can light it up from deep, to make an early impact.

176. St. Peters: The Peacocks are on the way up - they won six games in 2007-08, then increased that to 11 last season. Coach John Dunne slowly but surely is rebuilding the Peacocks. Guard Wesley Jenkins will help with that. The team is built around three juniors: guards Jenkins and Nick Leon and forward Ryan Bacon. Jenkins has good range and can get hot in a hurry. Finishing above .500 overall is a legit goal this season.

175. Citadel: Coach Ed Conroy - the cousin of best-selling author Pat Conroy - has a team that should contend in the conference. Guard Cameron Wells, the teams leading scorer has returned. The Bulldogs earned their first postseason berth in program history last season, falling in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament to eventual champion Old Dominion. While they lose all-league forward Demetrius Nelson, Wells (15.6 ppg, 3.0 apg) returns for Conroy, who was the league's coach of the year.

174. Santa Clara: The Broncos will be heavily dependent on underclassmen, and they could be dangerous next season. Guard Kevin Foster returns for his sophomore season with high expectations. It'll be tough to say goodbye to the league's best big man from last season, John Bryant (18.1 ppg, 14.2 rpg), but coach Kerry Keating has enough to keep the Broncos in the upper division. Guards Foster (14.7 ppg) and James Rahon (11.3 ppg) were superb as freshmen, along with forward Marc Trasolini. That sophomore trio will lead the way.

173. Albany: The Great Danes return four starters and are a sleeper in the America East race. Forward Will Harris (12.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg) can do it inside and outside (36 made 3-pointers last season), while top scorer Tim Ambrose (14.3 ppg) is a penetrator who can get to the free-throw line (105 attempts last season).

172. Weber State: The Wildcats lost too much to defend their Big Sky regular-season title. They do return sophomore forward Kyle Bullinger, who looks to improve upon last year's numbers. The Wildcats ran away with the regular-season title, finishing 15-1, then suffered a crushing loss to Montana State in the league tournament semifinals. Weber State will be in the mix again with super sophomores Damian Lillard (11.5 ppg) and Bullinger (10.0 ppg in league games). But league MVP Kellen McCoy is gone, as is defensive player of the year Daviin Davis.

171. Holy Cross: Center Andrew Keister will show what he's made of this season. New coach Sean Kearney had been a Notre Dame assistant for the past nine seasons. There could be a second consecutive second-place finish in store for the Crusaders. Kearney will try to win a title in his first season at Holy Cross. It's possible if he can get more out of talented big man Keister (8.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and sophomore guard R.J. Evans (13.4 ppg). Three valuable seniors from last season's team are gone, though.

170. Marshall: The Thundering Herd have the talent to get to 20 wins and into the postseason - not the NCAA tournament, though. Coach Donnie Jones enters his third season with a team that holds a lot of intrigue. The Herd lost just one starter, but it was leading scorer Markel Humphrey. Guard Damier Pitts looks to fill that gap. There's also a top-notch recruiting class, headed by 6-11 center Hassan Whiteside, the No. 87 prospect in the nation. The Herd were brutal on the perimeter last season, making just 31.7 percent of their 3-pointers and allowing foes to hit 39.8 percent. Whiteside adds another dimension to the team and gives the Herd an inside presence they desperately lacked last season.

169. Ball State: The Cardinals could be the second-best team in the MAC West - but that's like being the second best show on the local access cable channel. Ball State might have the best frontcourt and the worst backcourt in the entire conference. If the Cardinals get any kind of production from their guards, they have an excellent chance to win their division. But if Ball State needs help on the perimeter offensively, otherwise opposing defenses will swarm f/c Jarrod Jones and force someone else to do the damage.

168. Fairfield: Coach Ed Cooley did a nice job with a depleted roster last season, and the Stags bear watching in the MAAC. Forward Greg Nero is one of the best players in the MAAC last year. The Stags were hampered by numerous injuries last season, but the experience gained by backups last season will pay off this season. Nero - if his back is healthy - is one of the best big men in the league. The Stags need help from some freshman guards.

167. Belmont: The Bruins lost four starters, but coach Rick Byrd will coax a winning record out of an overhauled roster. Forward Scott Saunders returns, which makes the Bruins the league's steadiest program, but the loss of all those starters will be too difficult to overcome. But weep not for Byrd, a good friend of country music star Vince Gill. Belmont has some talent, most notably the 6-10 Saunders, a Rice transfer. The Bruins also add G Kerron Johnson, who was Alabama's "Mr. Basketball" last season.

166. Bowling Green: Coach Louis Orr's team will win with defense. A lack of offense is going to hurt. Bowling Green must replace the top three scorers from the team that won a share of the MAC East regular-season title last season. The Falcons won with solid outside shooting and exceptional defense. Only time will tell if the Falcons can maintain those strengths with a retooled lineup. The Falcons don't return anyone who scored as much as eight points per game last season. Look for center Otis Polk to try and improve upon that mark.

165. Wofford: The Terriers have a nice duo in forward Noah Dahlman (17.8 ppg) and guard Junior Salters (15.0 ppg). The Terriers are coming off their most successful season since joining the conference in 1997-98. They could be even better this season, thanks to the return of Dahlman (17.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Salters (15.0 ppg), who declared for the NBA draft before coming to his senses.

164. Southern Mississippi: The Golden Eagles lost 11 of their last 13 games, then saw three of their top four scorers exit the program. The Golden Eagles were expected to be a dark-horse contender in the league last season, but an inconsistent offense and a severe lack of depth led to a free fall in the league standings. Instead of fighting for a postseason berth, Southern Miss instead had to fight to stay out of the cellar. Forget challenging for the league title this season; once again, Southern Miss looks as if it will be fighting to stay out of the cellar. There's a lack of experienced talent, aside from guard Angelo Johnson, and it may take a while for everybody to get used to each other.

163. Boston University: New coach Patrick Chambers, who had been a Villanova assistant, has enough talent to win the league. That talent includes guard/forward John Holland who is a star in the America East. Dennis Wolff was fired after 15 seasons as coach at BU, a tenure that saw two trips to the NCAA tournament and three to the NIT. Chambers inherits a contender. The Terriers revolve around three stars in Holland (18.1 ppg), point guard Corey Lowe (17.2 ppg) and big man Jake O'Brien (12.5 ppg). O'Brien was the league's newcomer of the year last season.

162. South Dakota: The Coyotes, who are looking for their second consecutive 20-win season, like to get up and down the floor. The up-tempo Coyotes had five players average in double figures last season. Three return, including leading scorer forward Tyler Cain (15.4 ppg, 11.0 rpg). He's a good shot blocker, and if he gets some offensive help up front, the Coyotes could win 20 games again.

161. Texas A&M Corpus Christi: Foward Chris Palmer is the best player in the Southland, and the key to the Islanders' title hopes. The Islanders will battle Sam Houston State for the top spot in the Southland's West Division. Palmer (18.2 ppg) is the toughest player in the league to guard. Justin Reynolds and Demond Watt are strong around the basket, and Shamar Coombs (8.1 ppg) is a solid point guard. Keep an eye on Palmer this season as he looks to contribute even more.

160. UAB: Guard Aaron Johnson returns for UAB, averaging 7.9 points per game in 2008-2009. Fourth year coach Mike Davis lost three 1,000 point scorers, and has only three returning letterman this year. This will be a rebuilding year for the Blazers, as they look for big contributions from their newcomers. Watch for UAB to fire away from three-point range.

159. St. Louis:  There are seven freshmen, five sophomores and a junior on coach Rick Majerus' roster. This includes guard Kwamain Mitchell, who needs to step it up this season. The third year might be the toughest yet for Majerus with the Billikens. In his first two seasons, Majerus could lean on Kevin Lisch and Tommie Liddell. Those guys are gone. The Billikens will be one of the youngest teams in the country. Majerus is a disappointing 34-29 overall and 15-17 in the A-10 in his two seasons.

158. Maryland-Baltimore County:  Although they return star sophomore guard Chauncey Gilliam, the Retrievers look to have lost too much firepower to finish in the top half of the league. Not long ago, UMBC was on top of the America East, and the Retrievers followed up a 2008 NCAA bid with a hard-fought, tourney title game loss to Binghamton to wrap up a rebuilding season. Now all the key parts from that NCAA run are gone, with Darryl Proctor (20.0 ppg) and Jay Greene (12.7 ppg) departing. Gilliam (10.9 ppg) must do more after a strong freshman season.

157. Tulane: The Green Wave have been consistently mediocre under coach Dave Dickerson, never winning more than 17 games or less than 12. Guard Kevin Sims returns as a contributor to Dickerson's backcourt which is fine, but the frontcourt has to be a concern, especially when the Green Wave face the better teams in the league. An upper-division finish would be a worthy achievement this season.

156. Princeton:  Guard Doug Davis is back to improve on his freshman debut. Coach Sydney Johnson slowly is getting the Tigers back to the top of the Ivy League. The Tigers leaped from last place in the Ivy in 2007-08 to second a year ago, and they nearly made a run at Cornell - thanks in part to a blowout of the Big Red and a win over Penn at the Palestra. Can Johnson's team make it a race in the Ivy League this season? If Davis (12.3 ppg) can build on his terrific freshman season and center Pawel Buczak keeps developing, there's a chance.

155. DePaul: The Blue Demons will be bad but not as bad as last season, when they were winless in the Big East. DePaul caused quite a buzz last season - but not for the reasons the Blue Demons had hoped. Instead of competing for a Big East title or a spot in the NCAA tournament, Jerry Wainwright's squad was the only school from a major conference to go winless in league play in 2008-09. Wainwright managed to keep his job, but anything close to a repeat performance this season will likely bring an end to his tenure with the Blue Demons. DePaul looks for a better season from center Mac Koshwal

154. Massachusetts: Guard Ricky Harris will garner some attention this year in the A-10. Harris can fill it up, but the Minutemen don't have enough complementary talent. UMass is going to need a season or two to get back into A-10 title contention. Harris' offense could lead to some upsets this season, but the frontcourt doesn't look as if it will scare anybody.

153. Wisconsin-Green Bay: Guard Rahmon Fletcher takes the reigns this year for Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Phoenix lost three key seniors off a 22-win team and will slide a bit. The Phoenix finished 13-5 (second place) in the league and reached a postseason event (the College Basketball Invitational) for the first time in a dozen years. But Tod Kowalczyk is saying goodbye to senior standouts Ryan Tillema, Mike Schachtner and Terry Evans. Guards Fletcher (10.8 ppg) and Troy Cotton (12.6 ppg) are in charge now. 

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